'Medieval ship' found in city river
The remains of a 17th century ship have been unearthed on a city river front.
Timbers from the ocean going vessel, estimated to be more than 25 metres in length, was discovered during the construction of a theatre and arts centre in Newport, south Wales.
Uncovered last month, the find was originally thought to be wharfage, but archaeologists called in to examine the site now believe it is the central portion of a medieval ship.
A spokeswoman for Newport County Borough Council said: "This find is potentially of national and international importance and there is no parallel ship to compare this discovery with in the whole of the UK.
"It has been difficult to pinpoint the age of the ship to date, but archaeologists are confident that it is consistent with the late 1600s.
"Cloth, leather and pottery have also been discovered which will assist the archaeologists in dating the ship."
The vessel is a keel boat of solid oak construction. It is believed the vessel is from the south west area of Britain.
Newport council has approached the Welsh Assembly Government and other possible funding sources to raise finances so that the archaeological work can continue.
Story filed: 18:53 Thursday 11th July 2002
Archaeologists Reveal Roman Finds
Monday July 8, 2002 7:20 PM
LONDON (AP) - Fine armor and jewelry and fancy imported tuna fish. Even for soldiers at one of the Roman Empire's most remote outposts, life was apparently not without its luxuries.
A display Monday of artifacts found in the ruins of a first century garrison in northwestern England suggests the frontier was not all that grim.
For example, there was a large jar containing an exotic fish paste made of tuna, dates, honey, vinegar, spices and herbs, a delicacy that Roman officers in particular liked to eat with hard-boiled eggs.
``These stunning finds of international importance provide a unique insight into the daily routine of the average Roman 'squaddie' (foot soldier) and his officers between A.D. 72 and A.D. 400,'' said Malcolm Cooper of the preservation group English Heritage, which organized the dig. ``We see how he went about his military duties and also how he spent his time away from the front line.''
Archaeologists found three forts built consecutively on the site in Carlisle, a town known to Romans as Luguvalium. The first two were made of timber and the third of stone. Experts are especially excited by the discovery of the fort's headquarters, or principia, where the foot soldier came to get his daily orders, collect his pay or receive punishment.
Other finds include jewelry, such as a woman's hairpin depicting a tiny female head wearing dangling earrings, that may have been owned by the commanding officer's wife.
Archaeologists also found well-preserved armor similar to that used by gladiators, which may have been brought to Luguvalium by soldiers who had fought against the Dacians in what is now northwest Romania, and black-and-white gaming counters which suggest soldiers played a game similar to modern checkers.
There is a selection of coins dating from around A.D. 70 to the 4th century and hundreds of animal bones, indicating that the garrison ate sheep, cattle, pigs, deer and birds. Plant remains show that dill and coriander were also on the Roman menu.
Archaeologists say there is also evidence of a sophisticated wooden system of water supply and drainage.
The amphora containing the tuna mixture was found outside the commanding officer's house, or praetorium. It is thought the mixture was shipped to Luguvalium from the Spanish port of Cadiz, where there was a large industry processing tuna fish.
Clay panels on the amphora proclaim that the contents are of superior quality and a Latin inscription in ink reads ``Tunny (tuna) fish relish from Tangiers, old,'' believed to be a reference to the style of sauce rather than its origin.
``This dig ... represents a remarkable addition to our knowledge of the Roman Empire,'' said David Miles, chief archaeologist at English Heritage.
The Romans probably built the first wooden fort at Luguvalium around A.D. 72 as part of the network of defenses in newly conquered northwest England. Once the wooden forts had outlived their usefulness, they were dismantled and burnt. The first fort was probably destroyed about 105 and the second around 150.
The final stone fort was built some time after 200 and remained in use until the end of Roman occupation around A.D. 400.
Monday, 8 July, 2002, 19:22 GMT 20:22 UK
Roman fishy tale uncovered
An ancient Roman recipe, discovered by archaeologists in Cumbria, has been recreated into a modern day dish.
Tunny fish paste - made from tuna fish - was a popular delicacy for Roman officers serving in Carlisle nearly 2,000 years ago.
Archaeologists found evidence of the fishy fare at Carlisle Castle, when they unearthed a food jar with a label still attached.
The dish - that blends tuna fish with dates, honey, vinegar, spices and herbs and is served with hard boiled eggs - was due to be given to guests at a preview of the dig's findings at the castle on Monday.
The label reads: "Tunny fish paste from Tangiers"
It is thought the fish paste would have been shipped to Carlisle from the Cadiz area of Spain.
The paste was found in an amphora (a large storage jar), outside the commanding officer's house and was probably thrown out with the rubbish in the late 1st Century.
Clay panels on it proclaimed its superior quality to the discerning Roman palate.
The translation of the Latin words, written in ink, reads: "Tunny fish relish from Tangiers, old", "for the larder", "excellent", "top quality".
It is believed the reference to Tangiers was to the style of the sauce rather than its place of origin.
Amphorae like the one uncovered were shipped to Carlisle from Cadiz, where there was a large industry processing tunny fish.
The fish were chopped, salted and then fermented in their own juice to make the expensive tunny paste.
Also uncovered at the site were rare examples of leather, wood, coins and metalwork, which have helped historians gain a fuller picture of what life was like in a Roman garrison.
David Miles, chief archaeologist of English Heritage, said: "This dig has created a tremendous amount of interest not only in Carlisle but nationally and internationally.
"It represents a remarkable addition to our knowledge of the Roman Empire.
"This exhibition is a fascinating snapshot and just a taste of things to come.
"A dig of this size and complexity now requires a good deal of research and it will be some time before we know the full significance of what has been found."
Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
BBC plans 'Pop Idol' for buildings
A new TV show hopes to drum up interest in saving historic buildings by offering viewers a Pop Idol-style voting competition to choose which crumbling relic should be restored.
The BBC Two series, called Restoration, will feature 10 regional heats showcasing threatened buildings before viewers choose which most deserves the "prize money" in a grand final.
The show will be made by the company behind Big Brother, Endemol, who hope to emulate the success of the reality TV series, which attract millions of phone votes each week.
English Heritage, who have just published a report naming 1,542 listed buildings that are at risk of falling down, are also taking part.
"I believe that television can play an important role in focussing public attention on the whole issue of buildings at risk in an engaging and intelligent way," BBC Two controller Jane Root said.
The show will feature all types of buildings - including cottages, castles, railway stations and chapels - from all eras.
The regional heats will delve into their histories, talk to owners and locals, and encourage viewers to imagine what they were like in their heyday.
The winner will be restored from cash raised by the programme.
Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said old buildings were an invaluable part of our lives and culture.
"They are not just castles and stately homes but familiar landmarks, public halls, old pubs and houses that define the character and appearance of our streets," he said.
"Losing these through neglect and decay changes the way a town, city or village looks forever and squanders its most valuable assets.
"These buildings are both our history and our future."
Brighton's West Pier is in a derelict state
Brighton's West Pier, the Gorilla House at London Zoo, Brixton Windmill, Durham Castle and St Pancras Chambers were just a few of the structures at risk across the country, he said.
At least £400m was needed to save all the threatened buildings, he added.
Buildings in Scotland and Wales will also be featured on the show, which will be seen in the summer of 2003.
Oldest hominid skull shakes human family tree
19:00 10 July 02
NewScientist.com news service
The wind-blown Djurab Desert of Chad has opened a new window on early human evolution - a hominid skull six to seven million years old, at least two million years older than any skull previously discovered.
The stunning find was unearthed by Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France and his team. "It's a lot of emotion to have in my hand the beginning of the human lineage. I've been looking for 25 years."
Named Sahelanthropus, the new species is close to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. It and other recent discoveries "strongly shake our conceptions of the earliest steps of hominid history," Brunet says. "The divergence between chimp and human must be even older than we thought."
Sahelanthropus shows the last common ancestor "did not closely resemble any modern ape," said Tim White of the University of California at Berkeley. Although its body and brain were the size of a modern chimp's, its face was quite different, with large brow ridges and much smaller canine teeth.
From the back, the skull "looks like a chimpanzee, whereas from the front it could pass for a 1.75 million year old advanced australopithicine" says Bernard Wood of the George Washington University. Such a mosaic of features is also evident in a newly discovered 1.8 million year old skull from Georgia.
The discovery in Chad also shows early hominids had spread at least 2500 kilometres from the east African rift valleys that have so far yielded the best fossils. Brunet's team began digging in Chad in 1994 with a team from the University of N'Djamena and the Centre National d'Appui a la Recherche of Chad.
Ahounta Djimdourmalbaye, an undergraduate at the University of N'Djamena, found the skull a year ago, but although word leaked out, Brunet kept quiet until publication of a paper describing the find in Nature on Wednesday. The team have also found two lower-jaw fragments and three isolated teeth from other individuals
The site is expected to yield more bones and researchers hope these will reveal more about how Sahelanthropus lived. At that time the climate in Chad was moist, leading the team to nickname the skull Toumai, a local word for babies born before the dry season.
Whether Toumai walked upright will be of key interest. No leg bones have yet been found at the site, but Brunet says of the skull: "The position of where his spine enters his head doesn't prove that he is bipedal - but it shows he could be."
Brunet adds that, apart from its more primitive canine teeth, Sahelanthropus is close to another recently discovered hominid, Ardipithecus, which lived 5.8 to 4.4 million years ago in Kenya and Ethiopia. But Sahelanthropus is further from Orrorin or "Millennium Man", a second early hominid that lived six million years ago in Kenya, but known only from leg bones and a tooth.
The blend of features in the new fossil further challenges the old theory that hominids evolved each key trait only once in a line of descent. "It's a great example of how the fossil record keeps showing how wrong our inferences are," said Susan Antón at Rutgers University.
Wood says it lends weight to the idea that hominid evolution is a series of diversifications, "in which anatomical features are 'mixed and matched' in ways that we are only beginning to comprehend."
Journal reference: Nature (vol 418, p 145)
Medieval skeletons uncovered
Three skeletons dating back at least to the 14th century have been discovered in the town centre of Malmesbury.
The skeletons, were found on a building site near the old medieval abbey, on what experts believe was probably a burial ground.
Most of the old burial ground in the Wiltshire town was disturbed when a cinema was built on the site in the 1930s, but the skeletons have survived in excellent condition.
Archaeologists are now trying to find out more about the skeletons before they are re-interred.
Christopher Kent, managing director of site developers, Chase Homes, said: "I must admit that when the call came through from the site manager, I just couldn't believe it so I shot up from my office.
"They were evidently Christian, because the bodies were laid out east to west but I don't think we'll find out a lot more about them."
"I personally think the proper thing to do is to give them a decent Christian burial."
Town mayor, Councillor John Bowen said: "We knew something was potentially underneath because it was on the site of one of the old chapels, but a dig was done two years ago and nothing was found.
"There was a relocated entrance to the abbey in 1285 and there'd been a chapel on the site probably since Anglo-Saxon times.
"I think the skeletons are from people almost certainly affiliated to the abbey because they were found within the old abbey confines."
Tracking down 1000AD homes
By SAM HALSTEAD
CITY archaeologists have been called in to comb through Victorian vaults under Waverley Station ahead of work beginning on a £400 million facelift.
The teams hope to uncover the remains of medieval houses from as far back as 1000AD beneath the vaults.
Remains such as pits, trenches and post-holes could give a key insight into medieval life.
The team of archaeologists believe the vaults were built on top of a handful of medieval houses which sat near a stream. Now they hope to find the remains of the homes and build up a picture of what life was like.
Today, John Barber, managing director of Edinburgh’s AOC Archaeology Group, said the vaults could have destroyed any medieval remains, but he believed any remains that did survive would be from a handful of wooden and thatched houses.
Long gardens beyond the houses would have stretched down to the edge of a stream which ran from a dammed loch, he said.
He said: "The purpose of the work is to undertake an assessment of the cultural value of the vaults and any visible remains.
"It also to assess any remains of those which are invisible."
The vaults, underneath the station car park, were built around 1850 for office and rail freight storage. Taking up around half of Waverley Station’s car park, they were designed never to be seen.
A rail track and buildings, demolished in the 1950s, has since lain on top.
The largest passage of the vaults is 40ft high and 25ft wide and runs from the car park entrance at New Street.
Mr Barber said: "They are very large. It is extensive. It would have taken a staggering amount of labour to build them."
Freight goods from the railway would have been stored in the vaults and clerks would also have worked in the space.
Mr Barber added: "It would not have been a pleasant place to work."
Wooden shutters indicate the vaults were used for office space, he said. There was also evidence of lifts and lightshades. The team was also surprised to discover a 2CV car in the vaults. The archaeologists are carrying out a detailed survey of the site before proposed work on a Waverley Station upgrade begins.
As part of the plan, the vaults are likely to be demolished, revealing what lies beneath.
The team was called in ahead of the proposed £400m makeover for Waverley Station by Railtrack.
A new home for Edinburgh City Council has also been planned.
The archaeologists have completed a report for Railtrack which recommends the vaults be surveyed before any demolition.
Mr Barber said: "They are extremely an interesting part of Edinburgh heritage." But he added that any scale of development was likely to destroy them.
Debbie Robertson, spokeswoman for the World Heritage Trust, said: "I think they seem to be of interest. We would like to know the extent of what is there and if it is of interest, then they should be retained."
A Railtrack spokeswoman said: "We do recognise the need to explore all archaeological aspects of the Edinburgh City Council office development.
"We are more than happy to ensure a good record is kept of all archaeological information associated with the project."
Edinburgh’s Old Town is well-known for its underground chambers. Mary King’s Close beneath the City Chambers is the most famous, with tourists flocking to see the underground street which was sealed off in the 17th century.
Centuries-old vaults under South Bridge remain beneath more modern buildings. Underground vaults also exist at Blair Street and Niddry Street. And in May, a chamber which lay untouched for at least 300 years in Old Fishmarket Close was discovered.
14 December 2001
ARTS MINISTER ANNOUNCES WORLD HERITAGE STATUS FOR THREE FURTHER BRITISH SITES
The Derwent Valley Mills in Derbyshire, Saltaire in West Yorkshire
and New Lanark in South Lanarkshire have today been given World
Heritage Site status by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, Arts
Minister Baroness Blackstone has announced.
They join the Devon and East Dorset Coast which was granted World
Heritage Status by the Committee yesterday when it considered
nominations for natural sites.
Tessa Blackstone said:
"I am delighted that all four nominations made by the Government have
received international recognition as sites of outstanding universal
value. The three cultural sites are outstanding examples of our
industrial heritage, illustrating the tremendous contribution Britain
made to the industrialisation of the world during the 18th and 19th
"For the Derwent Valley Mills it is not their first time in the
international spotlight. They were recognised during the Industrial
Revolution as defining the model English Mill system which was copied
not only throughout the country but also around the world.
"Saltaire, named after its creator Titus Salt and the River Aire on
whose banks it is located, is the finest example in England of an
integrated textile mill with its associated housing and public
buildings. It represents the culmination of a process that began in
the Derwent Valley a century before. " New Lanark, an industrial
heritage site, was submitted by the Scottish Executive. Founded in
1785 as an industrial settlement on the banks of the River Clyde,
this cotton spinning community was built to exploit the water power
offered by the Falls of Clyde.
The World Heritage Committee inscribed the Dorset and East Devon
Coast on the World Heritage Sites list yesterday. It is an
exceptional example of a natural geological site.
The UK's four sites were among 49 proposed by 32 countries currently
being considered by the Committee at its annual meeting in Helsinki,
This announcement brings the total of the UK's World Heritage Sites
Notes to Editors
1. The Derwent Valley Mills, Derbyshire - Cultural This area embraces the historic textile area of Cromford, Belper, Milford, Darley Abbey and Derby which saw the pioneering development of the textile factory system. It saw innovations in the harnessing of power, the marshalling and housing of the labour force and, above all, developments in the scale and structure of manufacturing buildings. The River Derwent, from its source in the Peak District to its confluence with the River Trent south of Derby, powered successive generations of pioneer textile mills through the 18th and 19th centuries, creating a cultural landscape of international significance. The lower valley from Cromford to Derby witnessed the two seminal events in British textile history - the introduction of water- powered silk throwing and the application of water power to cotton spinning. These events, and the subsequent experiments in the fire proofing of mill buildings and the provision of industrial housing, gave rise to the factory system that was to mature around Cromford, Belper and Derby and was recognised as the model English mill system. This was exported not only throughout the country but around the world.
2. Saltaire, West Yorkshire - Cultural Developed from 1850, this area represents the culmination of the process begun in the Derwent Valley a century earlier. Here the Factory System reached its apogee as regards the integration of processes and transport, the utilisation of steam power, and the provision of housing and social amenities, all dignified by unified architectural treatment. Saltaire is the finest surviving example of a model textile mill village in the
3. New Lanark, South Lanarkshire - Cultural This has survived little
changed from the period of the early industrial revolution in the
late 18th and early 19th centuries. Founded in 1785 by the
enterprising Glasgow banker David Dale as a new industrial settlement
on the banks of the River Clyde, it was built to exploit the water
power offered by the Falls of Clyde with the mills in operation from
1786 to 1968. Dale's son-in-law Robert Owen became manager in 1800
and, under his enlightened management, New Lanark was to achieve
lasting international fame as a model community.
4. The Dorset and East Devon Coast - Natural This stretch of coast,
from Orcombe Point in Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage, reveals
a superb and almost unbroken series of exposures of sedimentary rocks
from the Triassic through to the Cretaceous, laid down over a period
of 180 million years. The geology and geomorphology of this property
have created a coastline of exceptional natural beauty, and a variety
of sea- cliff, shingle and lagoon habitats of recognised
international importance. This site has long been a source of
scientifically important fossils which have played a very important
part in the development of palaeontology and the understanding of the
evolution of life on earth. Despite over 200 years of study, fossils
new to science continue to be founds as the cliffs naturally erode.
5. The four sites were formally nominated to UNESCO by the Department
for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in July 2000 (News Release DCMS
164/00). This followed publication by DCMS of World Heritage Sites -
The Tentative List of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland in July 1999 (News Release DCMS 209/99).
6. The concept of World Heritage Sites is at the core of the World
Heritage Convention, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, to which 167 nations
belong. The Convention established the list as a means of recognising
that some places, both natural and cultural, are of sufficient
importance to be the responsibility of the international community as
a whole. As a member of the Convention, nation states are pledged to
care for their World Heritage sites as part of protecting their
7. World Heritage Sites are nominated by the appropriate nation
states. They are then evaluated by either the International Council
on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for cultural sites and/or the World
Conservation Union (IUCN) for natural sites. The final decision is
taken by the World Heritage Committee based in Paris.
8. Inclusion in the World Heritage List is essentially honorific and
leaves the existing rights and obligations of owners, occupiers and
planning authorities unaffected. A prerequisite for World Heritage
Site status is, nevertheless , the existence of effective legal
protection and the establishment or firm prospect of management plans
agreed with site owners to ensure each site's conservation and
9. The UK's World Heritage Sites are now:
Stonehenge, Avebury & Associated sites
Durham Castle & Cathedral
Studley Royal Park & Fountains Abbey
Castles & Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynned
City of Bath
Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey & St Margaret's Church
Tower of London
Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey & St Martin's Church
Edinburgh Old and New Towns
Heart of Neolithic Orkney
The Historic Town of St George, Bermuda & Related Fortifications
Blaenavon Industry Landscape
The Derwent Valley Mills
Henderson Island, Pitcairn Group
Gough Island Wildlife Reserve, St Helena Group
Dorset and East Devon Coast
10. The next round of nominations for World Heritage Status will be
made in January 2002 with decisions due in June 2003.